St Augustine, Florida
Wanderlust Travel Magazine|May/June 2021
Introducing the USA’s oldest city… we discover the history and wildlife beyond the beaches of the Sunshine State
Aaron Millar

Miami is sparkling and raucous; Orlando is full of thrills; but the little town of St Augustine, nestled into Florida’s historic coast, has something those glitzy big cities lack: charm.

Founded in 1565, St Augustine, 65km south of Jacksonville, is North America’s oldest continuously occupied European settlement. And it shows: more than 450 years of history are infused into its cobbled stones, from its narrow, winding streets and old colonial forts to its bright Spanish Revival architecture soaring in gilded towers. This may be the USA, but it feels more like an old-world European break.

That is, apart from the beaches. St Augustine may have history that predates the country itself, but this is still the Sunshine State. White sand stretches 67km along the coast, from golden bays filled with buzzing resorts to wild desolate dunes with not a soul around. Kayak along peaceful waterways with dolphins and manatees brushing past your boat, hike nature trails through estuaries ringing with birdsong, or cast a line and wait for tarpon and mackerel to bite.

That’s what St Augustine is about. Culture and open air. Historic sites in the morning, wild coastal adventures in the afternoon. Sounds pretty charming to me.

HIGHLIGHTS

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN

Fifty five years before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Admiral Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés spotted a tiny Timucuan village on the coast, came ashore and claimed it for Spain. Those roots still define St Augustine to this day, especially in its Historic Downtown: 144 blocks of living history framed by the sparkling waters of Matanzas Bay.

The sites here though are interspersed between museums, galleries and restaurants with outdoor terraces that spill onto the streets [see next page]. This is a place to wander, to slow down and soak in the atmosphere, colour and scents – of fresh seafood and sweet treats – that drift on the air.

One of your first stops should be the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park (fountainofyouthflorida.com; $15.96[£12] adult), which marks the site of the original Timucuan village, Seloy, where the town was founded. Dispersed around its 61,000 sq km waterfront are numerous exhibitions that showcase the Native American and colonial history of the town.

Nearby, is the Castillo de San Marcos (nps.gov; $15.96[£12] adult): the oldest masonry fortification in the United States with nearly 350 years of stories hidden within. But, perhaps, most impressive of all is the Colonial Quarter, a walk-through recreation of the town in different stages of its history, from 16th century boat makers and blacksmiths to 17th century watchtowers, where Spanish soldiers would have watched for pirate flags on the horizon.

HISTORIC SITES

Beyond St Augustine’s Downtown there’s a lot more history to explore, just a short drive away.

Fort Mose

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM WANDERLUST TRAVEL MAGAZINEView All

FINDING MANA IN French Polynesia

Five archipelagos, 118 islands, countless patches of ocean heaven... With our trip planner, we help you get your head around exploring the pristine Pacific

10+ mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

Searching for WILD SPAIN

An increasing number of rewilding projects in Europe means we no longer need to travel far to watch big predators in their natural habitats. Wanderlust goes on a Cantabrian bear hunt...

10 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

Voyage of Discovery

Sailing to the pristine White Continent is a privilege. So how about giving something back? We embark on a new trip that combines a mind-blowing Antarctic expedition with a bit of citizen science…

10+ mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

St Augustine, Florida

Introducing the USA’s oldest city… we discover the history and wildlife beyond the beaches of the Sunshine State

6 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

Alaska

For a deeper understanding of Alaskan culture, experience indigenous traditions first-hand alongside its native population

4 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

6 More Places To See European Bears

Bear-watching opportunities are growing throughout Europe – Lyn Hughes finds six more countries where you can go in search of them

2 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

7 Steps To Planning An Ecofriendly Trip

In this exclusive extract from Wanderlust’s new book, How to Travel Guilt Free: Essentials Tips for Ethical Travellers, Hazel Plush provides some top tips to make your next trip a green one…

3 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

25 Places Plotting A Greener Future

While travel’s on hold, enlightened destinations are looking towards more responsible forms of tourism. We look at those vowing to build back better…

10+ mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

Luang Prabang's 7 Best Sleeps

Its rich culture and elegant architecture has made this Laos city a cool classic. Here are seven sustainable stays from which to enjoy it

4 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021

Taste The History Of Hawaii

Say Aloha to a rush of Pacific flavours. Modern-day local Hawaiian cuisine is a fabulous fusion of different cultures – but if you truly want to experience the islands’ real soul, look no further than traditional luau…

3 mins read
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
May/June 2021
RELATED STORIES

Networking Opportunity

Florida Industrial Hemp Conference to Offer Education, Guidance, Community

4 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
May 2021

Fair Play, Fair Work

Florida State Fair Executive Director Cheryl Flood Maintains Balance Between Education, Entertainment

4 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
May 2021

AGRI SHOPPER

Transform Your Patio Into a Comfy Summer Hotspot

3 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
May 2021

FLORIDA HOUSE OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVES CONSUMER PRIVACY BILL

The Florida House resoundingly approved a consumer privacy bill, giving the public an opportunity to regain ownership of the personal data collected by companies and the right to sue companies for mishandling information in a marketplace where consumers themselves have become lucrative commodities.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #495

SPYKE AND MIKE

SPYKE & MIKE GO TO THE PET STORE

4 mins read
Born To Ride Florida
March 2021

Recipe Spotlight

A Healthy Berry Very Easily Turns Decadent

3 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
March 2021

SIGNS of the SEASON

You Say Tomato, We Say Florida’s Finest

2 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
March 2021

Is Olive the New Orange?

Florida Growers Court New Alternative Crop

5 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
March 2021

Florida-Grown Coffee? How UF Scientists Are Using AI To Serve Up the Possibilities

MOST OF THE WORLD’S COFFEE is grown in tropical regions. However, a changing climate could allow coffee to grow farther north — for example, in Florida. In April, all HCYCP participants pick up their tree kits to start their project.

3 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
March 2021

HERO NEVER GAVE UP ON MISSING GIRL, 13!

Clever cop goes motel to motel in search of perv who allegedly took her

2 mins read
National Enquirer
April 05, 2021